By 90Min
August 31, 2018

Born: 30 August 1978, Dobrich, Bulgaria

Age: 39

Age in 2005: 26

Premier League Clubs: West Ham United (2001-02), Portsmouth (2002-07), Wigan Athletic (2006/07)

Position: Striker


When Paul Merson started to wheeze during matches due to a combination of old age and a deeply unhealthy lifestyle, it was obvious he needed replacing. At least that's what most believed newly arrived Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp was suggesting when he stated that his latest signing, Svetoslav Todorov, would bring "good competition in the striking department". Anywhere else, one goal in 14 games - Todorov's goal tally for West Ham - would hardly have represented even mediocre competition. 

Yet these were exceptional circumstances and Pompey, who had just narrowly avoided relegation from the Championship, were a club in need of significant overhaul. Little did they know, the fresh-faced Bulgarian newcomer would become the focal point at Fratton Park in a season that saw the Hampshire-based club gain promotion to the top division for the first time since 1988. Merson, meanwhile, was continuing to wheeze over in Walsall. 

Jamie McDonald/GettyImages

(Above: Todorov celebrates after realising, as a Pompey employee, he is entitled to 10% off all Ty Beanie Babies)

For Todorov, the journey to this point was one that will be familiar to all those who have an interest in both the English Premier League and second-flight Bulgarian football: youth career at CSKA Sofia, twelve appearances for Dobrudzha Dobrich, four-year spell at Litex Lovech, a trial at Preston North End. 

Yet his stats during that period were far from ordinary and 36 goals in five years didn't go unnoticed by the West Ham hierarchy who swiped the towering striker from under David Moyes' nose in January 2001 for a fee of £500,000, rising to £2m depending on appearances. 

Very few appearances later, the now out-of-favour Bulgarian jumped ship to Portsmouth just a year after signing for the Hammers, putting pen to paper on a deal worth £750,000. His squeaky clean disciplinary record was a decisive factor in the transfer, as the club looked to sign players who would rid them of their reputation as a place for maverick hotheads. 

Christopher Lee/GettyImages

(Above: Todorov proving that he's just like the other free sprits in the team by sticking his tongue out while celebrating) 


Following his dismissal for violent conduct in his second appearance, Tod got back to his usual ways and equalled his tally for West Ham, scoring one goal in his first season for the club. 

However, with the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Tim Sherwood painting Portsmouth's town centre red every other day, options were limited for Redknapp, who was forced to stick with the Bulgarian striker for the following season.

And before Harry could say 'jaegerbomb', Todorov finally began proving his worth, bagging a personal best 26 goals in 45 appearances that included a hat trick against Bradford City in the final game of the season. 

Image by Benedict Smith

(Above: This man scored more goals for Charlton than Todorov)


With a record like that, one can only imagine the heights that Hot Toddy could have reached. But a training ground incident, which doesn't require much detail beyond the mention of Todorov's foot kicking the ground with the ball nowhere to be seen, meant that he was sidelined for an extended period to undergo knee surgery.

As Pompey adapted to life in England's top division, Svet was on his Tod over in the States, watching with pained expressions as Sheringham played brilliantly with a hangover. And if that wasn't enough, Yakubu Aiyegbeni arrived from Maccabi Haifa for a fee of £8.5m, more or less spelling the end of the forward's venture by the south coast. Upon his return to fitness, he headed up to north to Wigan on loan before signing with recently relegated Charlton Athletic in 2007.

Two seasons that yielded just three competitive goals suggested that Don't Svet the Small Stuff could no longer be described as good competition to even the likes of Andy Reid, who boasted five more goals than the Bulgarian. 

Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

(Above: Todorov kindly gets out of the way as Jay Demerit put his laces through a clearance)


At 30, the clock was ticking and a move back to his homeland seemed the sensible choice, rejoining Litex Lovech on a free transfer. He marked his return with a goal in a 5-0 win against Lokomotiv Mezdra, a match that fans of both Litex Lovech and Lokomotiv Mezdra will be familiar with. 


Yet if fans saw this as a sign of good things to come then they would be disappointed and, seemingly with his best days behind him, Todorov packed things in just three years later at the age of 34, having scored a total equivalent to 92 more seasons like his one he had at West Ham. So, 93.


Where is he now?

Toddy's last appearance came when he conducted 'The Big Interview' for portsmouth.co.uk which, contrary to the title, is just two paragraphs long. 


What did he say?

"I went to a pub in Fratton"

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